Rosiness or Gloomy Gray:On Viewing the World #5

A famous quote by Helen Keller is “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. ” Helen Keller was a blind and deaf person who advocated for more assistance to the blind in the US. She could have given up hope and lived in darkness and silence, but she decided she couldn’t live like that. She stood up for what she thought should happen, and she was successful. Helen Keller advocated for deaf and blind people and helped make braille the standard system for the blind.

When she was 19 months old, Helen Keller contracted Scarlet Fever, which left her deaf and blind. In 1886, Helen’s mother read about a woman who was also deaf and blind but still had a successful education. They contacted Perkin’s Institute for the Blind, where the school’s director asked Anne Sullivan (an alumnus of the school) to be Helen’s instructor. She agreed and thus started a nearly 50 year-long relationship. Sullivan began teaching Helen how to sign words for specific things. When she started, Helen didn’t know that she was spelling out words, or that words even existed. Helen Keller even managed to write both manually and with raised print. She couldn’t see, but she still learned to write legibly. When Helen was 10, she decided she wanted to learn how to speak. She took a few lessons from someone at a school for the deaf and hard of hearing. She partially learned but was never happy with how her spoken voice was because it was hard to understand. Hellen Keller and Anne Sullivan caught the attention of Alexander Graham Bell and Mark Twain, who were very popular in America. Twain said, “The two most interesting characters of the 19th century are Napolean and Helen Keller.”

Helen Keller knew she wanted to go to university. Helen first went to Cambridge School for Young Ladies to prepare to go to the Radcliffe Institute, which is a part of Harvard University. Helen graduated in 1904, with a Bachelor of Arts. This was as much of an accomplishment for Anne as it was for Helen. Anne had to read everything and then sign it into Helen’s hand. Anne was partially blind and only had a bit of her sight left. Even though it was hard, she kept helping Helen until her death in 1936. After she died, Polly Thomson took over helping Helen. Helen wrote a biography about herself called The Story of My Life.  There are over 475 speeches and essays Helen Keller wrote about various topics, such as faith, blindness prevention, and atomic energy. to write all these, Helen used a braille typewriter first, then copied it with a regular typewriter.

Helen Keller saw herself as a writer and communicated with the world through her written works. She was a pacifist and protested the U.S. involvement in World War I. She advocated for women’s rights and for services for the blind. Helen joined the American Foundation for the Blind in 1924 and worked for them for 40 years. This gave her a way to advocate to the world about the needs of people with vision loss. Because of her, rehabilitation centers were built and education was made more accessible to people with vision loss.

Helen Keller was an optimistic person. In the face of shadow, she rose above and advocated for the rights of the blind. She could have just given up and lives in darkness and silence, but she learned how to communicate with others. She helped make education for the blind more available and told the world what she thought. She spoke the truth and she was successful in gaining rights and services for the blind and visually impaired.

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